Rupert Atkinson wrote:
As there is no 'beating' in Aikido, how is it possible to truly learn? Through ukemi? I think not. Being good at ukemi does have lots of self-defence advantages and does offer insight into technical detail, but it does not easily progress to learning to stand your ground and throw people about, especially if those people are of a more violent temper.
[I should add that in Japan, small people can win as the teaching is better - just my experience]
Nothing to add except to say I have taught several "small guys." who have done very well in different venues. I'd add to that many others in other arts from many different countries who do quite well.
All taught outside Japan.
I'm not one for Cultural snobbery. There are just as many half-assed, lame, self deluded and disorganized teachers -as well as excellent ones- in Japan as anywhere else. And the many venues that demonstrate freestlye fighting (including judo and jujutsu technique as a staple) are proving just how poor the Japanese have become at their own game in international competitons where no one really cares what somones rank or style is.
Taking Ukemi as a way to think
A response to take a throw is a choice. Mike wrote in this thread about his Aikido where he responded to a teachers atemi to his stomach by throwing himself. The only differentiation being in his earlier days he threw himself and now in his more experienced years the teacher would have to actually hit him.
Its just a view, but moving your whole body to a throw in response to a punch is possibly one of the stupidess things I have ever heard and is all over the place in AIkido videos. It is also one of the reasons so many scoff. There are far better ways to respond to strikes, throws and enters-and they all involve remaing standing.
By the teacher taking Ukemi they can better lead people into postional superiority and build their ability to read openings and win. Once trained a person would return to Aikido and just "see" no need to fall as a response in the vast majority of situations offered
Breakfalls and rolls only remain as staples in Aikido in order for folks to play aikido. Outside of the "Aiki"arts martial art shtick...once you get into more heavy handed dynamic body work the need for breakfalls and rolls is greatly reduced.
Another example away from response to atemi- is joint locks. Aikido folks have a hard time wrapping their way around ukemi with joint locks. Falling down and throwing yourself as a defense to a joint lock is not a way to go. There are ways to fight, where the chance of ever getting caught in a lock are slim and none and the responses to it being placed and needing to be undone involve body training in resistance and counters while remaining on your feet.
Again, you can train to carry your body in a dynamic exchange that changes the way your bodies respond... automatically. And it makes that type of response (taking air) inane and all but useless. And this is best taught by the teacher being the Uke.
Anyway all this calls to mind an interview with an Aikido shihan in Aikido journal in the 80's. The shihan was dismayed at the state of Aikido. He said something on the order of "Its easy to see the way Aikido is practiced today that the only peaceful resolution these people are going to bring to a conflict- will be when they are lying unconscious at the feet of their opponent."